“Hey Male Person! Have you ever touched a sanitary napkin in your life?” became an inadvertent tagline for Rags to Pads, when the organization’s founder Murugunantham, was interviewed.
Murugunantham is an empathetic husband. He saw that his wife, like 81% of Indian women, used a rag when she was on the rag (is that where that expression came from?). The practice is unhygienic and can lead to Urinary Tract Infections and affect fertility, among other nasty medical side effects. Imagine taking on that risk, while having raging hormones course through your body. Talk about an uhappy period. For a lot of Indian women, accessing female sanitary products is not as simple as going to a drugstore and choosing between pads, tampons, and a diva cup. Often there are only pads (if that), and these are unaffordable. So an often dirty rag is their only option.
Murugunantham felt that this situation was unacceptable – it was detrimental to women’s health! So he began figuring out how to make affordable pads using cottage industry processes. However, no one was willing to test his new concoctions, much less his wife. Love has its boundaries. Murugunantham therefore decided to take a walk in a woman’s shoes. He used colored liquid – and not the typical commercial blue- to simulate menstruation. And then he spent days walking around in different types of homemade maxi pads to understand how they worked and what was needed.
Using his own money, he invested in different machines to manufacture these pads. From his video, it appears as though they are manufactured on a small-scale, though I will be contacting Rags to Pads for further information. These pads are then sold via networks of women entrepreneurs, who call meetings to discuss female hygiene and pads. They are also being sold through the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society via an employment creation program. The company is already active across India, and is building relationships with groups outside the country. For more information check out this video: